Monday, October 06, 2008

Living Library

Well we got back from Deniliquin in time to work on the latest Brisbane City Council Living Library project that Karen has been helping to organise. This time it was at Garden City Branch Library in their community meeting room.

I find the Living Library concept quite brilliant. The whole idea is to create a safe place where you can listen to stories that you don't normally hear from people you don't normally meet.

This Living Library was relatively small to fit the size of the community meeting room. We had 10 living books on quite a range of topics available. There was someone speaking about her mental illness, another about being a heart recipient, somebody else about his conversion to Islam .......

The Living Library concept began in Denmark with the first event at the Roskilde Festival in 2000. Since then it has been spreading around the world. You can find their web site at . The first in Australia was initiated in Lismore and now both Brisbane City Council and Redlands Library Services have run them as well.

What can you do with your living book? Well you can't take them home or damage them. What you do is basically get comfortable and listen respectfully to your 'Books' story and ask questions. At the end of your borrowing period you say goodbye and thank you and maybe 'borrow another book' and listen to another fascinating story.

It's a quite unique opportunity to sit and listen to an Aboriginal Elder talking about growing up in Cherbourg or a young Muslim woman talking about head scarves or a transsexual person giving a really good run down on how she advocates for the community - all in the one safe place. Yes, I know, you see some of these sorts of stories on TV but these are real live people telling real live stories.

Next time hear about a Living Library stop and sit down for 40 minutes or so. Your life won't be the same ever again.

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